Music Column 2022 – William Price King meets the Music Legends – Nina Simone – Part Two – The 1960s

It is eight years since William Price King joined Smorgasbord to share music across the genres. It is six years since we have featured some of the music legends and delighted to showcase them again in 2022.

Nina Simone – Part Two – The 1960s

Little Girl Blue

Last week in the first part of the Nina Simone story, we left the story at the point when Nina’s debut album Little Girl Blue in 1958, was gaining her a much wider audience and she had moved on from Bethlehem Records to sign a contract with Colpix which was a division of Columbia Pictures.

With more experience of the record industry under her belt, Nina’s contract with Colpix included the important clause which clearly handed all the creative control over to her as an artist. This included all the material that she recorded. Her first album for Colpix was the 1959 release of The Amazing Nina Simone and here is one of the tracks from the album It Might As Well Be Spring.

The song was from the 1945 film State Fair with music by Richard Rogers and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II and it won the Academy Award for Best Original Song that year.Classic Mood Experience  

This album led to opportunities to perform in upscale venues including her first major New York show in theTown Hall in Manhattan. The evening was a resounding success and critics and audience alike were captivated not just by her incredible musicality but also her unique and spontaneous performance style. One of the songs that she performed that night was You Can Have Him by Irving Berlin, which had previously been covered by both Peggy Lee and Ella Fitzgerald. It was such a stunning version that Colpix released the track as a single. Note the opening keyboard arpeggio that would become Nina’s signature throughout her career.

In 1960 Nina would achieve her second Pop and R&B chart success with her version of the original Bessie Smith classic “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out.” The blues song was written in 1923 by Jimmy Cox and the lyrics told the story from the point of view of a one-time millionaire during prohibition.

Nina’s increasing chart success and rising popularity resulted in an invitation to perform at the prestigious Newport Festival.

The festival had been established in 1954 as the First Annual American Jazz Festival and was held at the Newport Casino in Newport, Rhode Island. It was financed by socialites Lorraine and Louis Lorillard for many years and it became one of the key venues for the top performers of the day. Following the success of the festival in the first year with over 13,000 attendees, the Lorillard’s bought a large estate called Belcourt in the hopes of holding the larger event in 1955 but planning permission was not granted. The festival did go ahead at Freebody Park which was a sports arena and workshops and receptions being held at Belcourt.

Not all the residents of Newport were in favour of the event. Jazz was not as popular amongst the wealthy residential community and they felt that the festival attracted an undesirable element. Mainly low income students and music fans without money for the high-end hotels who were sleeping rough across their exclusive environment. And of course many of the musicians and their fans were African American which in the 50s was a factor as it was across most of the country. The influx of thousands of people also caused logistic problems such as traffic congestion which only increased each year until 1960. Things got out of hand amongst the festival goers that year and the National Guard was called in to restore order. After that the festival underwent a number of changes to format before relocating to New York in the 70s.

However 1960 was the year that Nina Simone was invited to perform which she did on June 30th. She was accompanied by her long term musical collaborator Al Shackman on guitar, bassist Chris White and drummer Bobby Hamilton. Colpix recorded their performance and in 1961 released the popular blues track Trouble in Mind which gave Nina her third chart success.

Trouble in Mind is a blues song written by jazz pianist Richard M. Jones in the early 1920s and the first known recording of the song was in 1924. It has been covered many times by artists such as Dinah Washington, Sam Cooke and of course this version by Nina Simone.

Over the five years with Colpix Nina recorded nine albums and she had several tracks that were pivotal to her career including Cotton Eyed Joe and the lyrical and descriptive Norwegian folk song Black Is The Colour Of My True Love’s Hair. Nina also recorded one civil rights song, written by Oscar Brown jnr, Brown Baby which was a track on her fifth album for Colpix, At The Village Gate.

Next time we catch up with Nina Simone as she moves on from Colpix Records. 

Buy Nina Simone Music: Amazon

Additional sources
Nina Simone Website

William Price King is an American jazz singer, crooner, and composer.

His interest in music began at an early age when he studied piano and clarinet in high school. At Morehouse College in Atlanta where he grew up, he sang in the Glee Club and studied classical music. After graduation he went off to the Yale School of Music where he earned a Masters degree. From there he journeyed to New York where he created a jazz trio ‘Au Naturel’ which performed in some of the hottest venues in Manhattan including gigs on Broadway and the famous ‘Rainbow Room.’ These gigs opened doors for performances in Montreal and a European tour.

While touring Europe he met a lovely French lady, Jeanne Maïstre, who, a year later became his wife. King left the group ‘Au Naturel’ and settled in the south of France where he started a new life on the French Riviera, opening his own music school – the “Price King Ecole Internationale de Chant.” He has had the pleasure over the years of seeing many of his students excel as singers on a professional level, and some going on to become national celebrities. He continues to coach young singers today, in his spare time.

Blog– IMPROVISATION William Price King on Tumblr – Buy William’s music: William Price King iTunes – FacebookWilliam Price King – Twitter@wpkofficial
Regular Venue – Cave Wilson


As always William would love to receive your feedback… thanks Sally.


38 thoughts on “Music Column 2022 – William Price King meets the Music Legends – Nina Simone – Part Two – The 1960s

  1. What a great reminiscense to Nina Simone. Her songs and their interpretations are unique wonderful. Thanks for sharing this, William.
    Thank you also to you Sally, for featuring this great walk to the history of never forgotten music. Have a nice weekend! xx Michael

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you william, it is always good to be introduced to something new, something special.
    This certainly was for me.
    A mellow start to my sunny Saturday

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – 18th to 24th July 2022 – Hits 1999, Cuba, Nina Simone, Culinary letter ‘C’, stories, podcast, reviews, health and humour. | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

  4. I adore Nina Somone, such a fabulous singer, and musician and of course, she upset the music business and was in the wilderness for a long time. She was on her way back when she died. So very sad. I was sitting in a car outside our apartment in Hollywood when the news came over the radio that she had died. I was punch-drunk from the news. A great and always will be.

    Liked by 1 person

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